Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan could be gearing up for a Senate run.

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Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan came out as pro-choice in an op-ed published on Tuesday

After running on an anti-abortion platform in 2002, he's shifted leftward over the years

He dismissed speculation his shift was in preparation for a potential Senate bid

Washington CNN —  

Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan fully reversed his anti-abortion position and came out as pro-choice in an op-ed published on Tuesday.

“I have come a long way since being a single, 26-year-old state senator, and I am not afraid to say that my position has evolved as my experiences have broadened, deepened and become more personal,” Ryan wrote in the Akron Beacon Journal.

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“I have come to believe that we must trust women and families — not politicians — to make the best decision for their lives,” he said.

After running for Congress on a pro-life platform in 2002 and initially voting with Republicans on the issue, Ryan, who is Catholic, has shifted leftward on abortion. In recent years, he’s drawn criticism from pro-life activists that once supported him for voting to protect public funding for Planned Parenthood and access to contraception.

Ryan wrote in the op-ed that his shift was inspired by conversations with women during his political career, but the move also puts him in a better position politically as he contemplates a potential 2016 challenge to Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican.

Ryan told Roll Call that “we’re certainly looking very closely at” a Senate run.

And while he’s won re-election to his heavily Democratic district with comfortable margins nearly every cycle since 2002, Ryan’s pro-life stance could have been an obstacle for him in a Democratic Senate primary in the swing state.

Indeed, Portman himself has shifted on a key social issue since he was elected in 2010 with Tea Party support. He came out in favor of gay marriage in 2013, also in a newspaper op-ed, citing his experience with his gay son as partial inspiration for the shift.

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Ryan, however, dismissed speculation that his change of heart was politically motivated.

“I realize that people can be cynical about politics and think this is something tied to a Senate aspiration,” Ryan told the Plain Dealer. “The reality is, this is just where my heart is right now. I want to be clear about that. I would be abandoning my own conscience and my own judgment if I somehow led people to believe I was supporting a position I no longer thought was the appropriate position to have.”